Sam Harris

The ways in which the New Atheism serves imperialism are manifold. It bolsters the “clash of civilizations” narrative used to justify ventures like the invasion of Iraq and the need for repressive measures like state surveillance. Moreover, in presenting itself as a disinterested defense of reason, it lends such arguments a credibility they would lack in the hands of commentators from the political or cultural right. Finally, it shifts the focus from the social ills wrought by unjust economic arrangements to an external singularity called “religion.”

Beneath its superficial rationalism, then, the New Atheism amounts to little more than an intellectual defense of empire and a smokescreen for the injustices of global capitalism. It is a parochial universalism whose potency lies in its capacity to appear simultaneously iconoclastic, dissenting, and disinterested, while channeling vulgar prejudices, promoting imperial projects, and dressing up banal truisms as deep insights.

Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins may masquerade as intellectual insurgents, leading a crusade against the insipid tolerance of liberal politics. But ultimately they are apologists for some of its most destructive tendencies.
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2014 Community Look Back: Capturing Liquids in Midair, Growing up in Rural Australia and Paying Tribute to the King of Rock and Roll

For more creative moments from our community this year, visit blog.instagram.com and follow @instagram on Instagram.

This week we are looking back at some of the inspiring stories we featured in 2014 from around the Instagram community. Today’s spotlight is on Australian photographer Sam Harris (@samharrisphoto), Dutch designer Manon Wethlij (@manonwethly), and Elvis tribute artist Dean Zeligman (@deanzaselvis).

Sam’s photo series, “Middle of Somewhere", documenting his daughters growing up in rural Australia, was included in our feature on Burn Magazine, an online journal for emerging photographers.

Manon, a designer with a love of photography, created #flyingstuff for her ongoing series of liquids arrested in midair.

Dean, who began first impersonating Elvis at the age of three, paid tribute to the “The King” during the annual Elvis Week competition in Memphis, Tennessee.

If you think that it would be impossible to improve upon the Ten Commandments as a statement of morality, you really owe it to yourself to read some other scriptures. Once again, we need look no further than the Jains: Mahavira, the Jain patriarch, surpassed the morality of the Bible with a single sentence: “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.” Imagine how different our world might be if the Bible contained this as its central precept. Christians have abused, oppressed, enslaved, insulted, tormented, tortured, and killed people in the name of God for centuries, on the basis of a theologically defensible reading of the Bible.
—  Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation